Cannabis, on the other hand, was grown for many generations for medical and recreational purposes, so the genetic aspects of the plant that have survived and evolved are different. The cannabinoids, terpenes, and strength of the different parts of the plant have been bred to induce different effects in people or help solve medical issues, whether skin conditions, epilepsy, or others.
But, uh, what is it that CBD is supposed to do? I visited a cannabis dispensary in Boulder to find out what the hype was all about. After passing an ID check, I was introduced to a “budtender” who pointed me to an impressive array of CBD products — tinctures, skin patches, drink powders, candies, salves, massage oil, lotions, “sexy time personal intimacy oil” and even vaginal suppositories to treat menstrual cramps.
Although contaminants come in various shapes and forms, most are relatively easy to detect, because many professional analytical labs exist that routinely screen for such contaminants in, for example, food crops, imported medicinal plants, or edible oils. The standard lab methods, as described in Pharmacopoeia monographs (e.g., USP, EP) or food regulations, could simply be applied to CBD oils, after some minor validation studies. For example, the detection of heavy metals or pesticides present in CBD oil does not significantly differ from the same analysis in, say, a shipment of olive oil. The only analysis that is not yet standard procedure in most analytical labs is the quantification of cannabinoids. Because cannabinoids are only found (with few exceptions ) in the cannabis plant, specific analytical methodology must be developed to properly determine the cannabinoid composition of the many CBD products available.
The CBD present in oils and other products is usually derived from fiber-type varieties of cannabis (hemp), because these are naturally higher in CBD content than drug-type varieties (marijuana). Although cultivation of hemp is allowed in many countries around the world, this is usually governed by strict regulations. After being banned for decades, hemp cultivation in the USA has only recently been reintroduced, and is still gearing up for full industrial production .
CBD oil differs from CBD creams, ointments and salves, for it is produced in a different way and also is typically consumed orally, or with the mouth through a dropper. The oils vary in potency, depending upon the source of extraction. Both industrial hemp and cannabis can be used to extract amounts of CBD in order for the oil to exist, but oils generated from industrial hemp tend to hold a lower potency, although this is not always the case.
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a phyto-cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. However, it does not cause the same psychoactive effects as other naturally occurring cannabinoids (such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC). CBD induces feelings of sleepiness and tranquility, making it suitable for insomnia and other sleep disorders; CBD can be used to alleviate symptoms of epilepsy, diabetes, and anxiety disorders, as well. Legality is an issue for some; all 50 states have laws governing the sale, possession, and use of CBD, and they vary significantly (see the table below for a full analysis).
Despite this, CBD is something nobody knows much about, and certainly nobody is monitoring it properly. CBD is widely marketed as a supplement, despite the Food and Drug Administration saying it does not qualify as such (this is because it is an active ingredient in drugs which are either approved or under investigation to be approved). CBD goes largely unregulated by the agency; on the FDA’s FAQ page, a vague answer maintains there are “many factors in deciding whether or not to initiate an enforcement action.” The Department of Agriculture handles research grants and pilot programs for hemp, but that’s where its involvement ends.